Nobody’s Perfect

An interesting article from TechCrunch was published this morning about Google Chrome’s new extensions platform. I’m very excited to see so much talk about add-ons recently, and Chrome’s extension support shows how important browser customization is.

I’ve been experimenting with Chrome extensions and plan on posting my thoughts on the experience soon, but the TechCrunch article caught me by surprise with some of its statements that I wanted to comment on sooner.

Most notable was the comparison of the Chrome extensions platform to Firefox’s current add-ons platform without a single mention of the Mozilla Labs Jetpack project. Jetpack is an experimentation into what the future of Firefox add-ons might look like using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These add-ons are installed without a browser restart, are automatically up-to-date, and also appear instantaneously in the Jetpack Gallery. And it’s very easy to write a useful Jetpack extension in just a couple minutes that even works on Mac.

As Chrome’s extension support is in beta, I think using our experimental Jetpack platform as the point of comparison would have been fairer.

I was also surprised to see the Chrome extensions gallery characterized as “much more open” with the recent news that Google is rejecting extensions that, in its opinion, take browser customization a bit too far on its properties. Being open is a pretty big deal to Mozilla, so it’s disappointing to see the TechCrunch author feels we lost on that one. The Download Squad article takes a different view on Chrome extensions:

Unlike Mozilla’s add-on site for Firefox, it appears as though things are going to run in a slightly more Apple-esque fashion.
— Lee Matthews, Download Squad

This has been an incredible week for the add-on development world with the launch of the Chrome extensions gallery on Tuesday, their event on Wednesday, our meetup at Mozilla tonight, and Add-on-Con tomorrow. I’m glad that the Chrome team learned from the existing Firefox add-ons platform and made many of the same improvements we have with Jetpack, and I look forward to seeing where the two of us take the next generation of add-ons, because no one has “perfected browser extensions”.

  • Colby Russell

    I don’t think the comparison to the App store is apt. People have likened AMO to the App store as well, and the defense has consistently been one of pointing out that AMO is no gatekeeper to the extensions a user can install. When you remove that constraint so you can point fingers at Google, you open AMO back up to that criticism.